Britain's 'big cat X files' revealed (Big House Cats)


Blackleaf
#1
For decades, there have been legends that big cats have been spotted roaming the British countryside.

Many people have dismissed such reports, but now the head of a Government agency responsible for investigating such incidents has declared that he believes these mysterious creatures DO indeed exist.

His comments follow the release of a dossier by Natural England which lists more than 100 sightings of exotic, non-native and unidentified animals in England since just 2005 .

Of those, over a third were of big cats .

Big cats sightings have been reported all over England. The most famous is probably the Beast of Bodmin in Cornwall.

Britain's 'big cat X files' revealed

By Jasper Copping
06 Mar 2010
The Telegraph


Handout photo of a animal, believed to be a big cat, prowling close to a naval base in Scotland Photo: PA

There have been more than 100 sightings of exotic and unidentified animals in England since 2005, according to a dossier compiled by Natural England.

They are the stuff of rural legend but for decades, alleged sightings of big cats stalking the British countryside have been dismissed as hoax or fantasy.

Yet now the head of a Government agency responsible for investigating such incidents has declared that he believes these mysterious creatures do indeed exist.

His comments follow the release of a dossier by Natural England which lists more than 100 sightings of exotic, non-native and unidentified animals in England since 2005.

Of these, 38 were "big cats". In some cases, members of the public claimed to have seen the creature itself; on other occasions, they reported finding farm or wild animals which had been attacked or killed.

The documents Britain's "big cats X Files" show the extent to which Natural England takes the reports seriously.

The agency has launched several investigations, involving site visits by officials and the drafting in of specialist vets to examine injuries.

Big cat sightings have been reported all over England. In some areas they have spawned legends, such as the so-called Beast of Bodmin in the south west.

The investigations have yet to find conclusive proof of the presence of the mysterious creatures but, asked about their existence, Charlie Wilson, who coordinates reports for the Government agency, said: "The evidence is there that there are the odd, escaped, released dumped animals occurring in the wild every now and then.

"We know that. I am quite prepared to believe that. I don't think there are any breeding populations, however.

"If they are there, the numbers are so small that any risk of people encountering them is pretty small and any risks they present are somewhere approaching zero."

He added: "All reports are logged in our system. If there is only a sighting, then there is not usually much more than can be done to follow it up.

"But we are able to do so if there is something a bit more tangible that we could look at, like the carcases of other animals, or tracks. There are reports that turn out to be plausible."

One theory is that several large species, such as panthers, leopards and lynx, were deliberately released into the wild by their owners in the 1970s after the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which placed restrictions on the keeping of certain species.

In one "big cat" investigation, a carcase from an ostrich farm in Cambridgeshire was examined and the site was monitored.

In another, in Surrey, a roe deer was dragged over two fences, had its carcase eviscerated and was left with puncture marks. Natural England was informed by police and its officials studied photographs.

In Lincolnshire, a farmer found several of his sheep killed and eaten. On some of the carcases only the skull and spine were left. The farmer said the attack was down to a big cat and officials visited the site. Photos of the carcases were taken.

In another case, an injured horse was found in a field in Warwickshire, with claw marks scratched in it. In a further report, officials studied photographs of dead foxes, believed to have been scavenged by a big cat in Suffolk.

One big cat, spotted by a roadside between the villages of Mark and Burtle, in Somerset, was said to be as tall as a car. In another sighting in the same county, a motorist on the M5 reported seeing a big cat in an adjacent field.

While many of the investigations have been "inconclusive", others have been resolved. A supposed big cat seen in Norfolk, for instance, turned out to be a badger.

Danny Bamping, from the British Big Cats Society, said the real number of sightings would be even higher.

"Believing in big cats is not like believing in the Loch Ness monster," he said. "There is absolutely no doubt that they are out there.

"The most credible reports are from farmers, and those guys know their stuff. We have also had policemen reporting sightings to us. For every report, there are going to be others who don't bother to report it."

As well as the big cats, the Natural England dossier details other investigations which, in some cases, have found evidence of the presence of exotic species at large.

For instance, raccoon dogs native to Asia and Russia were confirmed as living in Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, while Siberian chipmunks, which can carry fatal diseases, have also been confirmed in Berkshire, Wiltshire and Cheshire.

Dead raccoons have been found in Kent and Hampshire, while there has also been a credible though inconclusive report of a living one in Surrey.

A snapping turtle, two feet long and 10 to 12 inches wide, was also discovered in Kent. The dossier states that the species "can be dangerous" and says that the animal needed trapping and destroying.

Fourteen coypus were also reported. The large South American rodent was brought to the UK by fur farmers in the 1930s, but some escaped and established wild populations.

These were thought to have been eradicated following a large-scale trapping exercise.

The new sightings could suggest that some remain at large, although none were proved conclusively.

A sighting of a wallaroo an Australian animal which is smaller than a kangaroo but larger than a wallaby living in Cornwall was taken as being credible, although not proven.

Other unconfirmed sightings include more raccoons and raccoon dogs, a wolf in Surrey, and a prairie dog in Buckinghamshire.

Twenty-eight of the sightings involved wild boar, which have escaped from farms and become established in some parts of the country in recent years. Sightings in other areas are still closely monitored.

The information was disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Sunday Telegraph.

telegraph.co.uk
 
SilentWitness
#2
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

One theory is that several large species, such as panthers, leopards and lynx, were deliberately released into the wild by their owners in the 1970s after the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which placed restrictions on the keeping of certain species.

Hi, my first post here. Was going to say this.
 
#juan
#3
Looking at the photo, I would say that was not a very big cat. Compare the distance between the RR rails and it appears that the animal's length would fit between them including the tail with room to spare.

 
L Gilbert
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Looking at the photo, I would say that was not a very big cat. Compare the distance between the RR rails and it appears that the animal's length would fit between them including the tail with room to spare.

Most people consider cats that are bigger than housecats to be "big cats". So "big" is relative. Age of animal is also relevant to size. small ones may be juveniles or cubs and therefore smaller than adults.
Anyway, get out your ruler and measure the distance between nose and tail then compare the result with the distance between the rails. That is definitely not a housecat, but it's also definitely not a 500 pound tiger or even a 400 pound lion.
 
bill barilko
#5
House cats 'n the hood indeed.
 
Cliffy
#6
Kinda looks like a panther but the tail is a little short.
 
Ron in Regina
#7
The photo is pretty blurry, but that is a fair sized critter assuming that
the Tracks are about 48" wide and in the foreground, with that animal
behind them. That animal in the picture is positioned in such a way
that it's front end is down-slope from the front end. Is that even a cat?
I'm guessing that critter in the OP photo is between 60-80lbs...


Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post


Handout photo of a animal, believed to be a big cat, prowling close to a naval base in Scotland


The tail & the patch of Tan below it on that black animal look familiar
to me. What's the opinion over there with respect to tail docking? My
little Buddy in the picture below, if his tail wasn't docked, would look
very much like the pic in the OP in a blurry photo from a distance.
That's assuming that blurry thing in the OP photo is actually even a
tail, & not part of the background behind that thing.



Looking at the OP's blurry picture, one might think, "That has to be a
cat of some kind, 'cuz look at the length of the neck!" and maybe they're
right....but with the back-end elevated in relation to the front-end due to
the slope of the terrain...& if the neck is stretched out as the critter
checks out the scents in the air (or on the ground)...



I'm doubting very much the "big cat" in the OP photo is even a cat.
 
#juan
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by L Gilbert View Post

Most people consider cats that are bigger than housecats to be "big cats". So "big" is relative. Age of animal is also relevant to size. small ones may be juveniles or cubs and therefore smaller than adults.
Anyway, get out your ruler and measure the distance between nose and tail then compare the result with the distance between the rails. That is definitely not a housecat, but it's also definitely not a 500 pound tiger or even a 400 pound lion.

Or a hundred and seventy five pound cougar or any cat I can think of. What about a black Lab??
 
Ron in Regina
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Or a hundred and seventy five pound cougar or any cat I can think of. What about a black Lab??


With the Tan patch on the butt...I'm thinking a Dobbi or Rotti, or a cross
with one of those two breeds involved in the mix....and a younger (no full
grown) dog yet too, assuming one of those breeds.
 
lone wolf
#10
Tracks are 4' 8.5" between the railheads. I make that to be a big black tom....
 
Spade
#11
Those tracks are probably narrow gauge - common in Britain. The rails are 42 inches or less apart. So this animal is probably less than a metre (3 ft) from nose to tail. I agree with Ron, (Sorry, Ron), it's a dog, and not that large!
 
Ron in Regina
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Tracks are 4' 8.5" between the railheads. I make that to be a big black tom....


Hmm...I'm guessing that critter is about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the width of the
tracks....from nose to butt ( not counting what might or might not be a
tail in the blurry picture). So about 28" to 36" nose to butt....yeah?

I just measured my Rotti (who's sleeping on the floor beside me) from
nose to butt (& not counting the docked stump of a tail) and got 46"....

I'm pretty sure we're looking at a dog in the 60-80lb range using your
track measurement, & smaller if #juan's measure is used. Still a dog.
Last edited by Ron in Regina; Mar 7th, 2010 at 06:01 PM..Reason: typo
 
CDNBear
#13
To make a an accurate judgment, one would have to know the gauge of that rail line.

Even without it though, that looks like a big cat, not as in a big panther, but a big black barn cat.
 
Bar Sinister
#14
It could be a cat or it might not be. I am always suspicious of pictures that are blurred. Can't anyone with photographic evidence take a decent picture? With the kind of modern cameras available even a complete novice should be able to take a picture that is in focus, especially at a distance. In any case if it is a big cat it would be rather unusual as contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe most large cats are not black.
 
AnnaG
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

To make a an accurate judgment, one would have to know the gauge of that rail line.

Even without it though, that looks like a big cat, not as in a big panther, but a big black barn cat.

European rails are 4'8.5". I think it's been mentioned before.
I just stuck a ruler up there and the rails are about 2 cm apart from a perpendicular perspective, and closer than the cat. Objects closer appear larger than objects farther away. The critters tail is curved so it'd be longer if it was straight out, too. The critter measures about 2.5 cm from nose to tip of the tail. Also at the shoulder the critter looks to be about 8 millimeters and the nearest rail looks to be about 2 millimeters. Standard rail is between 6" and 8" tall so the "large housecat" would be between 24" and 32" tall at the shoulder, which puts it at panther size.
I think some folks here need glasses or need to quit the wacky tabaccy.
Last edited by AnnaG; Mar 8th, 2010 at 03:40 AM..
 
Liberalman
#16
How big is it?
 
AnnaG
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Liberalman View Post

How big is it?

This big: *Anna holds her arms out*
 
CDNBear
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by AnnaG View Post

European rails are 4'8.5". I think it's been mentioned before.
I just stuck a ruler up there and the rails are about 2 cm apart from a perpendicular perspective, and closer than the cat. Objects closer appear larger than objects farther away. The critters tail is curved so it'd be longer if it was straight out, too. The critter measures about 2.5 cm from nose to tip of the tail. Also at the shoulder the critter looks to be about 8 millimeters and the nearest rail looks to be about 2 millimeters. Standard rail is between 6" and 8" tall so the "large housecat" would be between 24" and 32" tall at the shoulder, which puts it at panther size.
I think some folks here need glasses or need to quit the wacky tabaccy.

There are several rail sizes used throughout north America, Britian and well, the world.

In the back ground and foreground, you can see white flowered plants. I'm going to guess here, but Occams razor would indicate that they are wild "queen ann's lace", given it's rampant weed status in England and Europe, and a common place fixture along rail lines.

The flower in full bloom is 3 to 7 cm across.

Again making the cat or dog as Ron pointed out smaller then a panther.
Last edited by CDNBear; Mar 8th, 2010 at 06:55 AM..
 
CDNBear
#19
I went looking for the origins of this picture, and found this...

YouTube - BCIBrg's Channel

This is the video, from which the still in the OP is taken. I have a hard time believing it's a panther. I also question the veracity of the footage. Far to often, you find this type of tactic when trying to provide photographic evidence. Blurry, shaky footage.

This footage is reported to have come from Scotland. A country with extensive, operational narrow gauge railway networks. All private, heritage lines, but still operational. And again, you can see what appears to be queen anne's lace, in an abundance in the background, foreground and the animal even walks in and out of clumps of it. Which again gives a more proportional size to the animal. We are looking at a large cat IMHO.

Large domestic cats aren't that uncommon. I've lived in rural settings my whole life and encountered many cats of abnormal size. Even a tabby that was believed to be a half breed Bobcat.

This cat, which I found on the net, is no small fry, that's for sure.

Last edited by CDNBear; Mar 8th, 2010 at 07:35 AM..
 
Bar Sinister
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

I went looking for the origins of this picture, and found this...

YouTube - BCIBrg's Channel

This is the video, from which the still in the OP is taken. I have a hard time believing it's a panther. I also question the veracity of the footage. Far to often, you find this type of tactic when trying to provide photographic evidence. Blurry, shaky footage.

This footage is reported to have come from Scotland. A country with extensive, operational narrow gauge railway networks. All private, heritage lines, but still operational. And again, you can see what appears to be queen anne's lace, in an abundance in the background, foreground and the animal even walks in and out of clumps of it. Which again gives a more proportional size to the animal. We are looking at a large cat IMHO.

Large domestic cats aren't that uncommon. I've lived in rural settings my whole life and encountered many cats of abnormal size. Even a tabby that was believed to be a half breed Bobcat.

Actually it appears to me to be a large dog. It moves like a dog, walks like a dog, and holds its tail like a dog. I have two pyrenees. Their movements are very similar to the animal in the video.
 
#juan
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Bar Sinister View Post

Actually it appears to me to be a large dog. It moves like a dog, walks like a dog, and holds its tail like a dog. I have two pyrenees. Their movements are very similar to the animal in the video.

Exactly. No big cat ever carries it's tail that high. Pyrenees?........ Sure...I was thinking some kind of a Labrador cross but I don't know how common Labs are in Scotland.
 
YukonJack
#22
"I have two pyrenees. Their movements are very similar to the animal in the video."

And I bet both of your GREAT Pyrenees are black like the critter in the video.
 
Spade
#23
The mystery has just been solved by Hercule Poirot.
 
AnnaG
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

There are several rail sizes used throughout north America, Britian and well, the world.

In the back ground and foreground, you can see white flowered plants. I'm going to guess here, but Occams razor would indicate that they are wild "queen ann's lace", given it's rampant weed status in England and Europe, and a common place fixture along rail lines.

The flower in full bloom is 3 to 7 cm across.

Again making the cat or dog as Ron pointed out smaller then a panther.

"but Occams razor would indicate" that the rails are standard sized. Rail sizes:

Rail profile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Flowers can vary, but rails are limited in sizes.

Well, either way, there've been quite a few reportings of large cats attacking cattle and horses, and quite a few reports of dead sheep.
Last edited by AnnaG; Mar 10th, 2010 at 06:12 PM..
 
Bar Sinister
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by YukonJack View Post

"I have two pyrenees. Their movements are very similar to the animal in the video."

And I bet both of your GREAT Pyrenees are black like the critter in the video.

Try reading my posts before you comment on them. I said nothing about colour, I was talking about movement. The animal in the video seems to move like a dog, not a cat. BTW pyrenees is correct. Great pyrenees is used only in Canada and the US and I can't be bothered with that mouthful.
 
CDNBear
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by AnnaG View Post

"but Occams razor would indicate" that the rails are standard sized. Rail sizes:

Rail profile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Flowers can vary, but rails are limited in sizes.

Well, either way, there've been quite a few reportings of large cats attacking cattle and horses, and quite a few reports of dead sheep.

I'm not commenting on whether or not there are big cats in England or Scotland.

And queen annes lace has a distinct, and common sized flower. Where as rail lines, especially in sea board Scotland, may be of a significantly smaller scale.

The exact location is not given, therefore one can not pin point what rail line this is. But given it's commonality and its standard size, it is more reasonable to me, that that is queen annes lace.
 
Spade
#27
The rail line is by a naval base. Military bases in Britain used small-gauge lines to transport ammunition and other supplies. I doubt if it is standard gauge.
 

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